Faculty partner proposed TAR projects

These are projects submitted by UBC faculty, looking for a TAR intern to work on a specific challenge to student learning in a STEM classroom.

Name
Francis Jones
Departmental affiliation
Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
Email
fjones@eoas.ubc.ca
Phone
(604) 822-2138
Venue or course(s) for your TAR project
EOSC114 "Natural Hazards", a general science course open to all students for "science" credit.
Big goal of this TAR project
Scale up "scientific reasoning" in a very large 1st yr general science course at the same time as enhancing motivation and student "ownership" of the learning.
Is this project part of a larger scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) project?
  • Yes
What is a challenge that could be addressed in this TAR project to improve student learning?
It is difficult to introduce learning tasks that involve higher level thinking but which can be efficiently assessed with 1000+ students. In addition, we must target both face to face and distance education since the course is taught in two f2f sections each term and one DE section each term.
What intervention, activity, or support materials could you and your TAR intern develop to help students with this challenge?
We want to develop a group-based, peer-assessed project involving geoscience "inquiry". NOTE this will be attempted between May
2017 and May 2018, but having a TAR intern would be an awesome opportunity both for the intern and the project. But we have to work on this now while the Large TLEF project is funded.
How would you assess if the TAR project affects student learning? What are measures beyond comparing student grades?
a) evaluate "engagement with" and "enthusiasm for" the task (several instruments and strategies); b) add "structured comparison" and "argument" tasks both as part of the project itself and as associated questions in midterms and the final exam. c) compare the sophistication of tasks students do now with tasks they did in earlier versions of the course.
Additional comments
- This project is part of a large TLEF project funded between 2016 and 2018. Search for the PI "Sara Harris" on the TLEF pagehttp://tlef.ubc.ca/previously-funded-proposals/2017-2018/
- We do have funding for a GAA, equivalent to one full TA-ship. i.e. something like 10-12hrs / week for 4 months.
- There are plenty of project details for this proposed TAR project and the larger TLEF project, of which this TAR proposal is a small part. Please contact me by return email for additional details.
- the TLEF principle investigator is Sara Harris, but I am actually carrying out the project. My "specs" are at https://www.eoas.ubc.ca/people/francisjones

Name
James Charbonneau
Departmental affiliation
Physics and Astronomy
Email
james@phas.ubc.ca
Phone
(604) 827-2378
Venue or course(s) for your TAR project
Science One Program
Big goal of this TAR project
To document and increase student awareness of conceptual connections between science disciplines in Science One.
Is this project part of a larger scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) project?
  • Yes
What is a challenge that could be addressed in this TAR project to improve student learning?
Science One is a first year interdisciplinary program at UBC that consists of biology, chemistry, math and physics, with a bit of computer science. One of the challenges of an interdisciplinary program like this is providing sufficient overlap between the disciplines to provide an interdisciplinary education, while battling the traditional content and philosophical constraints required to fully prepare a student for an honours degree in any single discipline. Even in a program like Science One where we focus in interdisciplinary, we still see that students have a tendency to organize knowledge into disciplinary silos.
What intervention, activity, or support materials could you and your TAR intern develop to help students with this challenge?
The TAR intern would help develop a weekly activity that gives students the opportunity to reflect on the course and make meaningful connections. By meaningful, we mean more that simply recognizing that one topic in one discipline is taught in another discipline, which is fairly low on the Bloom taxonomy, but recognizing that the way a concept is applied in one discipline, though it might look different, is identical to how the concept is applied in another discipline. The reflection activity would also give us a “real time” assessment of their interdisciplinary thinking, in contrast to other pre/post instruments that give us a picture of how students changed over the entire program.
How would you assess if the TAR project affects student learning? What are measures beyond comparing student grades?
There are three potential ways of measuring the whether or not the reflection activity affected student learning.

The first two involve using survey instruments designed by the PIs (James Charbonneau and Chis Addison) of this project. The first instrument in an attitude survey that measures how students perceive the benefit of one discipline when learning concepts of another (i.e. is physics useful for learning biology). The second instrument is a card sorting tool that measures students’ how students group concepts in an interdisciplinary or disciplinary manner. Both of these instruments have already been administered to Science One, so controls pre intervention are available. This project can been seen as an extension of the development of these two instruments.

The third method is somewhat more ambitious. In their second semester Science One students complete a large final measurement/modelling project, and write up a report on it. The topic the students choose often fits squarely within a single discipline, the students get chosen a disciplinary mentor from the Science One faculty, and as a result, the reports end up being fairly disciplinary. For instance, a previous investigation found that statistical methods learned in physics lab are not used in biology projects, even though they apply. The final measure would be to see if the intervention affects the interdisciplinary seen in the final project reports. This task would involve coding past reports and present reports to see if there was any change.

Additional comments
Though the PI field doesn’t allow two names, this project will involve working in equal capacity with both James Charbonneau from the department of Physics and Astronomy and Chris Addison form the Department of Chemistry.

This project is part of a larger research program being run by James Charbonneau and Chris Addison to measure and probe interdisciplinary thinking. The development of interdisciplinary reflection activities can been seen as an extension of the work we've done to develop instruments that measure interdisciplinary thinking.